J Ordan Moore is standing on a football pitch, wearing a football top.
This is at first a statement of the bleedin' obvious but is a description too of an image which would seem fanciful and extraordinary to Moore only a few months ago. At 20, he is not yet old enough to have recorded any major successes in his career and yet he strolled quietly around Tannadice yesterday reflecting on a triumph which is likely to be the most significant of his life. He has just beaten skin cancer.
That sentence is perhaps deserving of a bold type-face given how strongly it stands out. It served to conclude a story which might not have had such a happy ending for the young Dundee United striker; a freckle discovered while playing on loan at Dunfermline Athletic last season growing quickly into a mole, and then into a problem. Moore had been told initially by doctors that his mole was simply an imperfection on his face and nothing to worry about. A biopsy later revealed it to be a sign of melanoma.
Loading article content
At age 20 and having still to fulfil his ambition of playing in the United first team, Moore was left asking how long he might have left; 20 years of light to reflect upon under the shadow of a deadly disease. "I didn't know a thing about melanoma so I googled it as soon as I came out of the surgery, but that was the worst thing to do . . . I just read the first line and closed the page."
He could be forgiven his ignorance. Moore had hitherto been concerned more with the efforts of his Dunfermline team as they tried to consolidate a place among the SPFL League 1 play-offs, the striker having scored eight goals as he made 20 appearances for the Fife club. The worst he had felt was when he was sent off during a defeat at Ibrox.
Cancer would ensure that his season did not remain so benign, although the results of his biopsy would catch his doctors off guard initially. "I had a mole. It was just a little freckle to start with but it grew into a mole," says Moore. "People were telling me to get it checked because it was getting bigger but I put it off.
"It started bleeding so I went to the doctor but he said it was nothing. I actually went to three or four doctors and they all said it was nothing to worry about."
"The doctors were shocked when the results came back as cancer and I wasn't prepared for it at all because even when I got the biopsy done they said there was a 90% chance it would be nothing. I knew I had to be strong for my mum and dad but they burst into tears, which was harder for me."
His resolve would last only until he phoned Neil McCann, the assistant manager at Dunfermline, to inform him of the diagnosis. "That's when I started crying on the phone. I didn't know what else to do . . . my emotions took over," says Moore.
They have since been replaced by words of caution to anyone who has concerns about a mole; surgeons have now removed 17 lymph nodes from his neck to enable a positive prognosis. His team-mates at both United and Dunfermline also worked to remove apprehension as they could during Moore's treatment.
"I had two operations, the second one lasted for 11 hours," he recalls. "The United boys came down to see me in the hospital. They came in a mini-bus. The gaffer [Jackie McNamara] and the whole coaching staff came down as well. The Dunfermline lads came along too. Sometimes I had 10 or 15 people in the room but the nurses didn't mind."
It presents a scene of standing room only in his ward, although the striker was moved himself to watch as his United team-mates wore T-shirts with his name on the front during a match against Motherwell in April. "It was a great feeling to see the lads wearing the T-shirts for me," he says. "When Nadir Ciftci scored and lifted his T-shirt up it definitely made me feel stronger."
It is a feeling which will grow when he begins pre-season with his sole intention now to break into the first-team and take his bow in the Premiership. "I want to score goals for United this season. I think if I get the chance I'll do it," says the striker, whose club confirmed last night that Mark Millar, Morgaro Gomis, Gavin Gunning, Dale Hilson and loan striker Farid El Alagui have all left Tannadice.
"That's what drove me on, being back playing for United is the goal I set myself right throughout the whole thing. I have just been looking forward to getting back to playing football. That's all I want to do."
It is an ordinary ambition for a young man. After recent experiences it is also more than enough.